Studies harness emerging techniques for lung regeneration

Lung regeneration and repair has been a long-standing interest of NHLBI, since the creation of the Division of Lung Diseases (DLD) 50 years ago, and its efforts to identify and characterize the cells of the lung – what they are, what are their functions, how they work, how they are hurt, how they heal.

As new technologies and advances in tissue engineering and transplantation emerged, DLD’s researchers sought to harness them by funding various research projects such as the Progenitor Cell Biology (PCBC), the Lung Repair and Regeneration Consortium (LRRC), the Progenitor Cell Translation Consortium (PCTC), and the Impact of Microenvironment on Lung Progenitor Cell Function.

As we take stock of the last 50 years of lung research, the following studies show that NHLBI-funded researchers have made significant advancements in lung regeneration and repair.

Very damaged lungs can be repaired for transplant

As reported in Nature Communications, researchers funded by NHLBI developed a new technique that can repair severely damaged lungs; and the regenerated lungs meet the criteria for transplantation.

Clues to lung transplant rejection might lead to therapies

An NHLBI-funded study conducted in mice identified a process that may prevent a particularly deadly form of lung rejection after a transplant, known as antibody-mediated rejection. The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, might lead to the development of therapies. 

Researchers cracked the genetic code of diseased lung cells

Scientists in an NHLBI-funded study unlocked the complete genetic code of individual human lung cells, both healthy and diseased, to find molecular pathways that lead to the development of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a lethal lung disease. The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insights, identified potential molecular targets that may allow doctors to better diagnose and follow the progression of IPF, as well as advance treatments for the disease.